The One Thing You Can’t Lose When You Fail

November 21, 2012 — 21 Comments

Failure is one thing we all face. It comes at us in our careers, our family, and our faith.

It pulls at us and tears us down. Telling us that we’re worthless now. That we won’t do anything of value.

Failure brings about lies and feelings of inadequacy.

But there’s one thing you can’t lose when you fail…

Caveman Drivers License

Image by Don Hankins

What Failure Tells Us

When we fail, we want to run and hide. To stick our heads in the sand like an ostrich. In all honesty, that makes us look silly.

Why do we want to do this?

Because failure lies to us. It says that we’ve screwed up beyond hope. We’re told that there’s no redeeming value in our lives.

The biggest lie failure tells us is that we’ve lost our identity.

Thank goodness it’s a lie. Your identity doesn’t come from a project, a relationship, or a title.

Why You Must Hold Onto Your Identity

The doubts about our identities will begin to rise when we fail. We become so attached to what we’re doing, we often forget our work is not our identity.

Our identity is unique. It’s attached to ME and to YOU. It’s who we are inside.

It’s not an event we’ve experienced. It’s not something we do. It’s not affected by outside forces.

That is why we must be willing to hold onto our identity. And not let failure claim who we are.

How To Hold Onto Your Identity

With the lies failure tells us, it can be easy to doubt ourselves. The waves of doubt rush over us. Crushing us at times.

This is why you need a plan to hold onto your identity.

  • Decide who you are: Create a written description of who you are. Write down who you believe yourself to be. Describe the what you do. Describe where you’re headed. Let it be known who you are. With this written out, you’re able to refer back to it after a bad business decision. You’ll be able to see that the failure doesn’t claim your identity.
  • Create reminders of who you are: Take note of your successes and desires. Keep them in a place you can refer to when a failure happens. They will be guideposts to get you back on track when you’re questioning who you are. Use them and use them frequently.

Holding onto your identity will save you tons of grief as you progress through life. You’ll be able to see that failure is an event, not a person. And it’s definitely not you.

Being knowledgeable about your identity, failure will be a distraction not a life killer.

You’ll be able to move after failures and still succeed.

Question: How has a failure affected your identity? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • Jon Stolpe

    It wasn’t failure but a health crisis a couple of years ago that rocked my world.  I struggled in my faith and in my role as a husband and a father.  Through this time, I was reminded that my identity in Christ does not change.  I’m thankful for a ROCK to lean on.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Glad to hear you came out knowing your identity never changed throughout that struggle. 

      • Jon Stolpe

        Me too!

  • TCAvey

    Wow,  great post.

    I know for years I let college, then career define me. When that was gone, I had to figure out who I was…I found out I’m a child of God! It’s beautiful. God really humbled and liberated me when I became a stay at home mom. He showed me all I hadn’t realized for so many years.

    Knowing who we are and who’s we are is so important.

    Happy Thanksgiving and God bless. I’m grateful to know you through blogging. 

    • Joe Lalonde

      Awesome TC. It’s amazing when we discover who we truly are. 

  • Dan Erickson

    I don’t look at failure as many people might.  I look at failure as experience, another step toward success.  So failure actually effects my identity in a positive way.  It keeps me going and pushes me to the next level.  I think this is a must-have attitude for creative and entrepreneurial types.  

    • Joe Lalonde

      Dan, I like your way of looking at failure. It’s no more than an event that gives us insight into what we should have or should do in the future. 

      • Jon Stolpe

        “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”  I think this is mostly true, if we can learn from our failings.  The problem today is that so many people blame their failings on others.  They don’t really learn, they just pass the buck.

        • Joe Lalonde

          Exactly! There’s a huge lack of personal responsibility. Have you read QBQ!? It’s a great book that focuses on this topic.

          • Jon Stolpe

            I haven’t read QBQ! yet.  I guess that’s another one to add to my list. :)

            • Joe Lalonde

               It should be there Jon. The book is a quick read, under 100 pages. Yet it’s packed with such great information. I think it should be required reading for everyone in school. The message is that important.

  • John Bennett

    If you seek to challenge yourself, failure is not avoidable; challenge yourself further if you don’t experience failure from time to time. May I suggest that the ideas for dealing with failure that are included in this posting are (or should be) reminders that failure is a measure of one’s willingness to take risk and an opportunity to advance learning. One LOSES only when allowing failure to win!!!

    • Joe Lalonde

      John, that’s true. The more you push the more likely it is something will not go right and you may fail at something you’ve gone towards. I’m often reminded of something Dan Miller says about his goals. He sets goal so lofty he expects he won’t accomplish all of them. Is it a failure or is there success in the failure? It’s up to us to see them in the right light.

  • Ngina Otiende

    Awesome thoughts here Joe. At one point in life I had my identity tied in all things but God. It wasn’t very obvious to me then (that I was looking to the wrong things). When the ‘things’ began to drop off one by one – career, leadership position in church, friends, dreams unraveling e.t.c – I had to find my real identity. fast. I still trip up but now I have a better foundation. Failure can teach you very deep lessons.  If you allow it to :). great post. 

    • Joe Lalonde

       I’m glad you were able to find your way back to your identity Ngina. The safety and surety that is found there is beyond comfort, huh?

  • Dan Black

    I know failure if handled correctly leads to success or at least a better future. I really like your point “Create reminders of who you are.” I make it a point (especially during a ffailure) to speak out who I am. I say things like: I’m a child of God, I have been given every spiritual blessing, and I can do all things through Christ. When I speak these out I better find my place in God.  Great post!

    • Joe Lalonde

       Awesome Dan. Do you keep a successful journal or anything like that as well?

      • Jon Stolpe

        A Successful Journal – I like that idea.  It’s good to be reminded of the blessings we encounter on a daily basis.  And it’s so easy to overlook the basic blessings.  A journal (daily) is a great way to document the successes of life.

        • Joe Lalonde

          That it is. We’re so easily distracted by the defeats that we forget the many, many victories we’ve had.

      • Dan Black

        I personally don’t have one but might think about starting one.

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